Wear transfers leave UNC in shopping rush

Right about now Roy Williams has to feel like a frantic shopper on Christmas Eve.

With the recruiting window all but closed on the class of 2010, the North Carolina coach suddenly finds himself in need of some big men.

The surprising announcement that Travis and David Wear were leaving Chapel Hill leaves the Tar Heels with a gaping hole inside. With Ed Davis and Deon Thompson gone, North Carolina now has a roster that includes just two experienced big men, Tyler Zeller and John Henson and a whole lot of players under 6-4.

Williams landed the most coveted recruit in the class of 2010 in Harrison Barnes, but the 6-7 Barnes as well as Reggie Bullock and Kendall Marshall won’t solve the Heels’ inside woes.

(A suggestion: call Jay Wright. He knows how to win with a bunch of guards).

“We are extremely disappointed that David and Travis are leaving the program,’’ Williams said in a statement. “I love both kids and they would have been very important parts of our team next season. It is a significant blow to our team as we had four post players and now we are down to two. They are quality kids and will be quality players.’’

In any season this sort of late development would be difficult to digest.

On the heels of UNC’s disastrous run, it’s even more of a blow. After an NIT-padded 20-17 finish, and a more telling 5-11 mark in the ACC, North Carolina has little wiggle room. The Tar Heels need to get good again and get good again fast.

The Wear brothers could have helped that cause. Theirs was a case when the numbers didn’t tell the whole story. Travis, hobbled midseason with an ankle injury, averaged just 3.5 points and 2.2 rebounds and David averaged 2.9 points and 1.7 boards. But the two McDonald’s All-Americans clearly had talent. In their limited minutes both were aggressive and showed a good basketball IQ.

The brothers are headed back to California to figure out their next move.

“Our coaching staff will look at whatever options are available,’’ Williams said. “But it’s hard to replace two quality players at this time.’’

Indeed Williams will be searching for a pre-Christmas miracle, the hoops equivalent of finding the hot toy sitting undiscovered on a shelf.